Karachi: Around 150,000 government wheat bags have gone missing from private flour mills in the province, sources told The News on Friday.
They said that the Food Department had stored wheat at private flour mills from where 150,000 bags went missing.
Three of the flour mills from where the wheat bags went missing were in Karachi and one each in Mirpurkhas and Kotri.
The sources said that the estimated cost of missing wheat bags was over Rs400 million.
A senior official of the Food Department told The News that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had been inquiring into the matter.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Food, Naseer Jamali, told The News he was not aware of the incident. However, he admitted that around 6,000 to 7,000 wheat bags were missing from a flour mill in Mirpurkhas and the matter was being inquired into.
Minister for Food Nadir Magsi on Friday informed the provincial assembly that the Food Department had its own storage capacity of 0.642 million tons out of procured 1,403,772 tons.
In response to a question by Arif Mustafa Jatoi, the food minister said due to bumper crops for the last many years, the Food Department was facing acute shortage of storage space.
In order to overcome the shortage, private warehouses were being hired. Furthermore, Nadir Magsi said five modern grain storage silos were being constructed with the assistance from donors in Karachi, Ghotki, Sanghar, Khairpur and Benazirabad where 250,000 metric tons of wheat could be stored.
Responding to supplementary questions, the food minister said federal government had set up silos spread over 22 acres on the Superhighway in Karachi but the same remained unutilised for years. Magsi said the food department tended to store around 20,000 tons of wheat at flour mills free of cost.
He said there were 172 flour mills in the province.
Responding to a question by Muhammad Muzammil Qureshi, he said the wheat quality testing laboratory in Landhi had been completed.